Historic palaces come in all shapes and sizes. From ruined ancient palaces to medieval palace fortresses and later modern architectural wonders, those who rose to power through the ages have always sought to build residences which were literally fit for a king.
Today these historic palaces are some of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet and the list of palaces around the world contains some of the most recognisable buildings to have ever been built. While many of these palaces no longer house royalty, some are still active homes while others may serve as such for just a short time every year.
If you’re one of the millions of people who enjoy visiting historic palaces then this list of palaces around the world should help to provide some inspiration.
The Palace of Versailes was the residence of King Louis XIV and former seat of the French Government.
Visually stunning, Hawa Mahal – which means the Palace of the Winds - is a striking 18th century royal palace in Jaipur.
Once the thriving centre of the Minoan civilisation, the archaeological site of Knossos contains the remains of the famous Knossos Palace, thought to have been the home of King Minos. It is one of the most intriguing and ancient historic palaces in the world.
Ranked among the most famous palaces in the world, Buckingham Palace has been the royal residence of British monarchs since the reign of Queen Victoria.
El Escorial is an impressive sixteenth century royal complex built under the orders of King Philip II of Spain. UNESCO listed.
One of the most enthralling entries on the list of world palaces, Hadrian’s Villa is perhaps the best-preserved Roman villa complex in the world and was the private palace of the famous Roman Emperor Hadrian.
Dolmabahce Palace is an opulent nineteenth century palace which twice served as the seat of the Ottoman Empire.
The Agra Fort was a Mughal fortress and palace in Agra, India and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Aigai in northern Greece was once capital of the Macedonian kingdom and the site where Alexander the Great was proclaimed king. Important remains at Aigai include the royal palace – which includes impressive mosaics.
Ajuda National Palace was once the official residence of the Portuguese royal family.
One of the most picturesque palaces in the world, the Alcazar of Segovia embodies much of what is considered to be the ideal vision of a fairy-tale castle, complete with charming turrets and cliff-top perch.
The Alhambra in Granada, Spain was a fortified palace complex of the Nasrid Dynasty conquered by the Christians.
A Rococo style eighteenth century royal palace, Amalienborg Slot in Copenhagen is the winter home of the Danish royals.
An ancient city of the Islamic Umayyad dynasty, which is listed by UNESCO, Anjar contains the remains of the great palaces which once stood there.
A UNESCO-listed sacred ancient city in Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura contains the remains of several palaces and a host of other ruins.
Attingal Palace is an historic site located near Attingal, Kerala. It is one of the oldest palaces in Kerala.
The capital of Siam for around 400 years from the 14th century, the ruins of Ayutthaya include the remains of three royal palaces. A fascinating addition to our list of world palaces.
Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan and an impressive walled medieval city. Among other things, it is famed for the Shirvanshahs’ Palace, an imposing 15th century royal residence.
One of the most famous historic royal palaces, Balmoral has been the official Highlands home of the British royals since the reign of Queen Victoria.
Famous as the site of the execution of King Charles I, Banqueting House in Whitehall is is the only complete surviving building of the Palace of Whitehall.
Beihai Park is vast, well preserved imperial palace and garden dating back to the 1st century AD.
Though now in ruins, Berkhamsted Castle was once a large, fortified royal palace built by English King Henry I and often used by the royal family of the era.
Beylerbeyi Palace is a nineteenth century palace built to house important guests.
A medieval castle in Hampshire built in the 12th century, the ruins of the medieval Bishop’s Waltham Palace can be seen in Hampshire.
A beautiful historic palace, complete with stunning gardens, Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
Bojnice Castle was a medieval fortification and royal palace, now seen by many as Slovakia's most romantic castle, with a history dating to the 12th century.
Buda Castle is a vast palace in Budapest’s Castle Quarter housing a series of museums including the National Gallery.
Casa Rosada is the presidential palace in Buenos Aires from which Eva Peron addressed the people.
Castel del Monte is an impressive thirteenth century fortified palace, originally built as a hunting lodge by the Emperor Frederick II. It is now listed by UNESCO.
Clarence House has been the London residence of several members of the British royal family.
Diocletian’s Palace was the place where this great Roman Emperor retired and is now an entire town.
With one of the richest histories of any palace site, the Domus Augustana on the Palatine Hill in Rome was the palace of Ancient Rome’s emperors.
Drottningholm Palace is a well-preserved 18th century royal palace in Sweden and a UNESCO listed site.
Among many fine sites in this historic city can be found the 15th century buildings of Sponza Palace and Ducal Palace, both of which have served important roles in Dubrovnik’s history.
Ducal Palace is a 17th century fortress in Lerma, built in the 17th century by its Duke, a favourite of Phillip III.
Dunfermline Abbey and Palace was a royal residence and the final resting place of many a Scottish monarch.
El Badi Palace was an opulent sixteenth century palace of the Saadi Dynasty destroyed by Moulay Ismail.
Eltham Palace is a spectacular Art Deco palace built in the 1930’s alongside a 15th century medieval hall.
Falkland Palace was the country retreat and hunting lodge of the royal Stuart dynasty.
Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal Empire for a short period in the sixteenth century.
Fishbourne Roman Palace hosts the remains of a huge Roman palace built in the 1st century AD. Today it operates as a museum and contains information, artefacts and mosaics.
The Flavian Palace on the Palatine Hill was where Roman emperors held official functions.
Frederiksborg Slot is a restored sixteenth century royal palace in Denmark and the site of the National History Museum.
The Grandmasters Palace of Rhodes was the base of the Knights Hospitaller of St John.
The Grandmasters Palace in Valletta has been the seat of power in Malta since the sixteenth century.
Hampton Court Palace is a medieval palace whch has served as everything from a royal residence to a prison.
Hatfield House is a Jacobean country house built on the site of what was Queen Elizabeth I’s childhood home.
A stunning 19th century Bavarian palace, located on its very own 230-hectare island, modelled on the Palace of Versailles.
Hofburg Imperial Palace was the winter residence of the Habsburg Dynasty, the Austrian-Hungarian imperial family.
Holyroodhouse Palace is the Scottish royal residence famed as having been home to Mary Queen of Scots.
Originally part of the great royal Westminster Palace, home to English monarchs for over 500 years, The Houses of Parliament are now the home of the UK Parliament.
Hunedoara Castle in Romania was a medieval fortress turned royal palace.
The Jaipur City Palace is an eighteenth century royal palace which houses several museums.
The Jaisalmer Fort in India was a heavily defended city of a warrior tribe built in the twelfth century.
The Jewel Tower is one of the last remnants of the medieval Westminster Palace.
Kenilworth Castle is a former medieval stronghold and royal palace, most famed as the home of Elizabeth’s beloved Robert Dudley.
Kensington Palace was the childhood home of Queen Victoria and the home of Diana, Princess of Wales, until her death.
Kew Palace is a seventeenth century palace which once served as a royal residence.
The La Almudaina Royal Palace in Palma was a Muslim citadel turned into a Majorcan palace.
La Conciergerie in Paris is a former palace turned prison which now serves as a museum and government building.
The Lahore Fort is a vast fortified complex built by the Mughal Emperors and is UNESCO listed.
Leeds Castle in Kent was a twelfth century stronghold which has since served as a royal palace, a prison and as a stately home.
Unique in design and style, the ornate 19th century Linderhof Palace exhibits exquisite Rococo ornamentation and is surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens.
Linlithgow Palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and host to most of the Stuart kings.
Lobkowicz Palace is a sixteenth century palace and a museum of art, history and music.
The Mehrangarh Fort is the well-defended former capital of the Rathore clan in Jodhpur in India.
Musee du Louvre is a twelfth century fort turned palace and today stands as one of the world’s foremost art museums.
Mycenae is a well-preserved Ancient Greek archaeological site in the Peloponnese which formed the centre of the Mycenaean civilisation.
Built in the 18th century, this former royal palace was home to Denmark’s royals and now operates as a museum with an impressive range of exhibits about the country’s history and culture.
The Norwegian Royal Palace has served as the home of the Norwegian Royal family since the 19th century and is now open for tours and visitors for part of the year.
Nymphenburg Palace is a grand baroque palace in Munich and one the city’s most famous sites.
The Palace of Septimius Severus was magnificent extension of the Domus Augustana on the Palatine.
Palacio del Infantado is a fifteenth century palace in Guadalajara built by the Mendoza family.
A former royal residence of the French monarchy until Charles V moved the royal palaces to Marais in 1358, the Palais de Justice served as the court of the Revolutionary Tribunal.
Palais de Papes in Avignon in France was the fourteenth century seat of the papal court.
Palais du Tau in Reims was where French monarchs would prepare for and celebrate their coronations.
Known as the birthplace of Rome, the Palatine Hill houses some of this ancient city’s most impressive sites, including several Imperial Palaces.
Palazzo dei Normanni is a Norman palace expanded from a ninth century Islamic building.
Palazzo Pitti was the home of the Medici family and now houses the Palatine Gallery.
Palazzo Vecchio has been at the centre of Florence’s civic life since the fourteenth century.
Pasargadae was the first capital of the Persian Empire and among these UNESCO-listed ruins are the still visible remains of several royal palaces.
Peles Castle was the summer home of Romania’s first king, Carol I.
Polonnaruwa contains the UNESCO-listed ruins of what was the medieval capital of Ceylon.
Flourishing from around 1600BC to 1200BC, Qatna Archaeological Park contains the ruins of this Mesopotamian city. One significant part of the park which is now open to tourists is an area of the Royal Palace.
The Red Fort is a world famous fortified structure and palace in Delhi, India and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Rosenborg Slot is a seventeenth century royal palace in Copenhagen in Denmark.
The Royal Palace of Madrid was built in the eighteenth century and was the home of the Spanish royal family until 1931.
Once a focal point of Austrian political and social life, Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna is a famous 17th century royal palace which also contains magnificent gardens.
Schwerin Castle is a picturesque palace and once the home of the dukes of Mecklenburg.
Shirvanshahs’ Palace is a fifteenth century castle complex in Baku in Azerbaijan.
The Sirmium Imperial Palace complex holds the remains of a Roman imperial palace which was home to several Roman Emperors in the middle and late empire.
St George’s Castle in Lisbon is a medieval castle which once served as a royal palace.
St James’s Palace has been the official residence of the British Sovereign since the reign of King Henry VIII.
Stirling Castle is an iconic royal palace, a medieval stronghold and a focal point for many of the most important events in Scotland’s history.
Tchogha Zanbil is home to the impressive remains of the ancient city of Dur Untash, the holy capital of the Elamite Kingdom.
Containing the remains of several palace complexes, Teotihuacan is a vast and well preserved ancient Mesoamerican city near Mexico City.
Housed in what was originally a 13th century Hafside Dynasty royal palace, the Bardo Museum is most renowned for its collection of Roman mosaics.
The Brazen Palace was a grand structure built in the second century in the ancient city of Anuradhapura.
The Doge’s Palace of Venice is a gothic structure which housed the government of the Venetian Republic.
The Forbidden City in Beijing was a Chinese imperial residence for nearly five centuries and now houses the Palace Museum.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok is an eighteenth century royal residence.
Containing the Winter Palace of Peter the Great as well as the beautiful Menshikov Palace, the Hermitage is now a world renowned museum in St Petersburg which includes a vast array of global exhibits.
The House of Augustus on the Palatine Hill was the home of Rome’s first emperor.
The Kremlin has been the seat of Russian power for centuries and was the site of many significant historical events. Today it houses several impressive museums and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Munich Residence was a focal point of Bavarian power for over four centuries.
The National Palace of Mexico is an important landmark representing Mexico’s independence.
The ruins of the Old Ming Palace in Nanjing were once part of a magnificent fourteenth century palace complex.
The Palace of Monaco began as a medieval fortress, undergoing centuries of conflict and attack before becoming a royal palace.
The Royal Palace in Amsterdam is a 17th century palace, once the largest secular buildings in Europe.
Topkapı Palace is a fifteenth century former residence of the Ottoman Sultans and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Trencin Castle was the main seat of aristocrat Matus Cak, Lord of the Vah and the Tatras.
Tsarevets Castle in Veliko Tarnovo is a medieval fortress and was the centre of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Today it is open to visitors and also hosts sound and light shows.
Home to numerous palaces, the most famous of which is Palazzo Ducale, Urbino is a picturesque UNESCO-listed city which was a creative centre during the Renaissance.
Originally the site of the papal palaces, the Vatican Museums now house a wide-ranging collection of artwork and historical artefacts from throughout history.
Wawel Castle is an iconic fortified castle complex in Krakow and the former seat of the Polish monarchy.